Most homes today are multi-computer homes. In addition to multiple desktop and laptop computers, many homes also have tablet computers and multiple smartphones. And, to add to that, many homes have various other “smart” devices: Rokus, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Fire Sticks, etc. And all these devices need an Internet connection to do what we want them to do. In order to facilitate a smooth stream of Internet access to all these devices, most homes also have a Local Area Network, or LAN.
A LAN is a computer network that connects computing devices of a small area, usually a building, like a home or business, to each other, and if you have Internet access, to the Internet. If you have Internet and several devices, you likely have a router, either one you bought yourself, or one provided to you from your ISP. The router acts as the bridge between connected devices, facilitating the transfer of information between computing devices and the Internet. The router can be wired or wireless. Most wireless routers also allow for wired connections, so most people don’t need a wired router anymore.
Wired connections to a LAN are most often done using Ethernet. Ethernet cables include coaxial, twisted pair, and fiber optic. Most Ethernet cables used in homes and small businesses are copper twisted pair cables. Ethernet has become the standard for wired networks, replacing its early competitors: Token Ring, FDDI, and ARCNET.
Wireless connections to a LAN are done over Wi-Fi. Most of the smart devices in homes today connect to the Internet over Wi-Fi, mostly due to its convenience over traditional wired connections. Wi-Fi can cause problems for the network when compared to wired connections, such as signals not reaching all parts of the house due to walls or other blockages, or interference with other wireless signals, such as wireless phones.
Wired (Ethernet) and wireless (Wi-Fi) together form the basis for a LAN. Many homes and businesses have combined wired and wireless LANs, however, as Wi-Fi becomes fasted and more reliable, some homes are becoming wireless only due to its convenience over wired. Whether wired, wireless, or a combination, your LAN is the reason all your many Internet-hungry devices can connect to the Internet together.